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Producers responsible for creating the movie “Rust,” which was being filmed in New Mexico before an on-set shooting death resulted in its cancellation, are pushing back on claims that they knew firearm safety was a concern before the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, was killed by a gun actor Alec Baldwin was holding.
Rust Movie Productions LLC filed a notice of contest on Tuesday arguing that the findings by the New Mexico Environmental Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (NMED) – which last month fined the company $136,793 for its “willful and serious” violation of workplace safety procedures – have no clue what it’s talking about in connection to a fire extinguisher that NMED said was not properly inspected and maintained.
“The supposed ‘fire extinguisher’ NMED claims should have been inspected and maintained is not a real fire extinguisher – it is a special effects device used to create fake smoke,” the motion states, per The Hollywood Reporter. “The attempt to extend the application of a fire extinguisher regulation to a special effects device shows their misunderstanding of the film industry.”
Last month, the safety board issued Rust Movie Productions its highest level of citation and maximum fine allowable by state law following its investigation into the deadly discharge in October 2021 that left the 42-year-old mother of one dead and film director Joel Souza wounded.
It distributed a scathing narrative of safety failures in violation of standard industry protocols, including testimony that production managers took limited or no action to address two misfires on the set before the fatal shooting.
The bureau also documented gun safety complaints from crew members that allegedly went unheeded and claimed weapons specialists were not allowed to make decisions about additional safety training.
Meanwhile, producers maintain that production heads enforced all safety protocols on set, including its alleged addressing of three previous misfire incidents.
“The first was not a misfire at all and did not involve a firearm – it was a harmless noise from a special effects ‘popper.’ The other two involved discharges of blank rounds,” the production company argues in its filing, according to THR. “Contrary to NMED’s statements, none of the ‘misfires’ violated firearm safety protocols on the set and appropriate corrective actions were taken, including safety briefings of cast and crew.”
Halyna Hutchins is survived by her husband Matthew and their 9-year-old son. (Hutchins’ lawyer Brian Panish)
Armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the daughter of a sharpshooter and consultant to film productions, was limited to eight paid days to oversee weapons and training and was assigned otherwise to lighter duties as a props assistant, according to the bureau.
“After OSHA’s very comprehensive safety investigation involving numerous interviews and review of documents, it concluded that production willfully failed to follow national gun safety standards, which caused this tragedy,” a statement from Gutierrez Reed’s attorney to Fox News Digital read at the time. “OSHA found that Hannah Gutierrez Reed was not provided adequate time or resources to conduct her job effectively, despite her voiced concerns. Critically, OSHA also determined that production failed to call Hannah in to perform her armorer duties and inspect the firearm right before its use in the impromptu scene with Baldwin.”
“As we have stated before, had anyone from Production called Hannah back into the church before the scene to consult with her, this tragedy would have been prevented,” the statement shared. “Hannah has also reached out to OSHA recently in an effort to provide her suggestions for changes and improvement of safety standards on sets to avoid a tragic incident in the future.”
As her time as an armorer ran out, Gutierrez Reed warned a manager and was allegedly rebuffed – accusations that the production company also reportedly challenged in their filing, writing that her job duties “always took precedence over any responsibilities related to props.”
“Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed was limited to eight paid days to oversee weapons and training and was assigned otherwise to lighter duties as a props assistant. This aerial photo shows the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Oct. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong | instagram)
The outlet reportedly referenced a message from costume designer Terese Davis to property master Sarah Zachary that Gutierrez Reed “didn’t do her job properly” and that she “had plenty of time to do so because we had extra time that morning while camera was f—ing off.”
“So she can say what she wants about training time and all that bull—- but it’s not why she killed Halyna,” Davis allegedly said in the message.
Gutierrez Reed’s attorney did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Fox News’ Stephanie Nolasco contributed to this report.